The Cockroach

by Heather Cousins

Last night our dog gave her
“Something’s wrong” bark—loud,
electric yap-yap, and showed us
a cornered monster—
ancient black shell, flat body,
saw legs, wispy alien
antennae. In Latin,
it is “blatta,” bleating
sound the tongue wants to make,
spitting it away—cursing, shivering,
shoving it in the trash bin
of the brain: bitter rat, fat bladder
of darkness, full of yellow
bile. This one’s too big
to crush—How did it get so large?
Where has it been hiding all
our lives! In dark corners,
growing, nibbling, watching
us, hating our lights. We are
poor and foolish—How much
of what we do is a lie?—
now that this ancient thing
is looking with its fecal head
at me, my husband, and our growling,
well-trained dog. How long
are we going to have to stand
here, facing it?—this black coprolite,
smug in its plans to wait out all
of human history.


Heather Cousins holds an AB in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, an MA from the Writing Seminars of Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Georgia. Her first book of poetry, Something in the Potato Room, was selected by Patricia Smith as the winner of the 2009 Kore Press Book Award and was published in January 2010 by Kore Press. Two of her poems have recently been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She is a Park Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Georgia, where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition.